5 Tips For Getting Fit When You're Plus Size
Starting a fitness journey is always a challenge, but it may feel even more daunting when you’re carrying a few extra pounds.
If it’s been awhile since the last time you laced up your sneakers, you may not be 100 percent sure what you’re still capable of — which can make it a little intimidating to hit the gym alongside people who look like chiseled bodybuilders and aspiring fitness models.
But “fit” comes in many shapes and sizes — and you can always nail fitness goals in your own living room if the gym isn’t exactly your happy place.
Here are a few tips for getting in shape, no matter what your shape is.
1. No workout is off limits
Have you ever seen a workout that looked intriguing, but you were concerned you didn’t have the “right” body type for it yet?
Maybe you want to try martial arts, but you’re worried that you lack the mobility, coordination, or power to execute a jab/cross/snap kick combo like a Muay Thai fighter.
Or you want to try yoga, but you can barely hold downward dog.
Put those worries aside. If a workout program looks fun don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try it — because you’re more likely to stick with a workout program you actually enjoy.
You can always modify exercises to . make them less strenuous until you build the strength and mobility needed to execute them fully.
2. Don’t underestimate your fitness abilities
Your weight or BMI (body mass index) can help you determine your starting point, but they’re not the only (or even the best) way to measure fitness.
Instead, gauge your progress by how strong and energetic you feel, and when you notice your workouts getting easier, go harder.
“A lot of people get really safe about using modifications,” McMatthews says. “They don’t realize how fit they’re getting, and how fast they’re getting stronger.”
If you begin to notice that the modifiers aren’t leaving you out of breath and drenched in sweat by the end of a workout, it’s time to move on to the main moves.
3. Get the right workout gear
Splurging on workout gear might feel kind of vain, but it isn’t just about taking awesome sweaty selfies — the right gear can keep you comfortable and even help prevent discomfort and injury.
A supportive sports bra can keep everything in place during plyometric (jumping) exercises, for example. Moisture-wicking fabric can prevent chafing between the thighs.
Working out with the right shoes is vital for many reasons. Unless you’re running, stop wearing running shoes when you exercise.
Their thick treads can trip you up during MMA-inspired workouts, their raised heels can sabotage stability and form in strength training, and their extra cushioning can throw off your balance during dance workouts.
Consider purchasing training shoes instead. (Need help picking a pair? Use our guide help you find the perfect shoes for any workout.)
“Everyone’s feet are different, so it’s not one-size-fits-all,” McMatthews says. “But for anyone — especially anyone who’s plus-sized — make sure you have a shoe that supports the workout you are doing.”
4. Pay attention to your technique
Proper form is always important. Not only does it help you get the most out of the exercise, but it can also help you reduce your risk of injury.
“It’s really important to make sure your technique is there — especially if you’re carrying around more weight because you need to protect your joints,” McMatthews says.
“Work on proper alignment and proper technique so you’re avoiding injury — and getting better results, as well,” says McMatthews.
It can be tempting to go full-throttle from the get-go, but that can backfire — if you get hurt, you won’t be able to work out for awhile.
5. Set non-scale goals
Don’t let the scale be your only barometer of success — look for other signs that you’re getting stronger and slimmer.
Have you lost an inch off your waist? Are you using heavier weights than you were last month? Can you hold a 10 seconds plank longer? Do you see a thinner profile when you look in the mirror?
“Focus on non-scale victories, like how you’re feeling during the workouts and if you have more energy during the day,” McMatthews says.
That includes emotional victories, too, such as feelings of pride and confidence following a tough workout.
The keys to meeting fitness goals are to stay positive and not get discouraged. Stay consistent and be patient — results will come.
“After a tough workout, a lot of people feel like a new and improved version of themselves, regardless of how much weight they have lost,” says McMatthews.